Farmers need to prepare for climate change

Published 23 June 2008

Now is the time for farmers and horticultural producers in northern NSW to start preparing their properties for the long-term impacts of climate change.

That’s the advice from Greg Reid, a project officer with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, who will be one of the speakers at Southern Cross University’s 2nd Regional Climate Change Forum, on July 3 and 4.

“While we have had a bit of a reprieve because of La Niña, conditions are likely to change fairly significantly in the future. Farmers can prepare their properties, particularly for the climatic extremes that cause damage to soil and pastures, and ultimately to their bank balance,” Mr Reid said.

“Many people in the agricultural industry have tended to hope for the best, while making a few seasonal preparations. This approach is likely to leave them in a vulnerable position.”

Mr Reid said while the Northern Rivers region would not suffer as much as other parts of the country, it was likely that there would be drier conditions in spring and much hotter summers.

“There’s likely to be much more bushfire damage. Storms will also impact on a lot of growers and heat stress will affect livestock. Unless properties are prepared physically and financially for these events, then they will start to go backwards,” he said.

“People are very uncertain about what they can do, but there are ways to provide a buffer against climate change.”

He said farmers could identify the parts of their properties that were the most vulnerable and look at strategies to reduce the impact of climatic extremes.

“Running costs can be reduced by focusing investment on those parts of the property that are most likely to give a return even in harsher seasons,” he said.

The 2nd Regional Climate Change Forum is being hosted by the School of Environmental Science and Management’s Centre for Regional Climate Change Studies. Speakers will cover a range of topics including sustainable agriculture and horticulture, sustainable settlements and infrastructure, coastal erosion, water resources and local government.

“This sort of event is important at two levels,” Mr Reid said. “We need to inform people and also bring together all the different agencies and organisations that are working on climate change.”

Forum convenor Associate Professor Graham Jones said anyone interested in how they think the region should adapt to climate change should attend the forum.

A Community Innovations Board will be displayed for those who wish to highlight any innovations they have come up with to adapt to climate change or mitigate its effects. Poster papers and trade displays on climate related matters will also be shown.

Anyone interested in participating in the Climate Change Forum should contact the Centre for Regional Climate Change Studies on 66203650, email graham.jones@scu.edu.au or visit the website www.scu.edu.au/environment-science-engineering/

The forum will be held at the Whitebrook Theatre, Lismore campus, on July 3 and 4.

Photo: Farmers and horticultural producers in northern NSW need to start preparing their properties for the long-term impacts of climate change.


Media contact: Brigid Veale Southern Cross University communications manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.